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Once upon a time, there was a librarian...

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Tami Lee had never worked in a library before she was hired as the new children’s librarian at the Waccamaw branch this summer.

Her background is in education. She has a master’s in educational administration and worked as an elementary school teacher and a reading instructor for children with developmental delays and disabilities.

But in her new career, Lee, 43, may have found her calling. She’s obviously enthusiastic about what she does and her biggest challenge seems to be limiting herself to 15 hours a week when she’s bursting with ideas for how to get kids excited about the library.

“As my 13-year-old daughter puts it, it’s everything I love about teaching, but there’s no grading papers and not much discipline,” Lee said.

A mother of two, Lee and her daughters, Morgan, 13, and Hannah, 9, only recently moved to the area from Ohio. They live in Horry County and the girls attend St. James schools. The family attends St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Litchfield.

It was a series of tragedies that motivated Lee to come to the coast last year looking for a fresh start. Over a short period of time her husband died and then she lost both of her parents. After that, she and her daughters decided it was time for a change.

“It was a family decision,” Lee said.

One of her brothers-in-law lives in North Myrtle Beach and she had also visited Charleston in the past and fallen in love with the area.

“My daughter said, ‘Mom, why are we waiting until you retire? Let’s go now,’ ” Lee recalled. It sounded like a good idea to her.

Her new job made the transition complete.

“It’s going great,” Lee said. “The goal was to get out and do community outreach and get into the schools.”

She does a story time at the private Pawleys Island Montessori Day School on Wednesdays, Pawleys Island Christian Academy on Thursdays and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on Fridays.

And of course, she does regular story times at the library on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.

She introduced a Book Buddies program at the library this month for kids in kindergarten through third grade. It meets on Thursdays at 3 p.m. Lee reads from a chapter book, then gives the kids a chance to explore the library and check out books.

“I’m trying to start some things for older kids,” around age 9 into middle school, Lee said. “The older kids get, the less time they have for books. I’ve been meeting with school librarians to see what we can do for them and what they can do for us.”

She’s also tossing around an idea about an after hours event at the library that would let older kids come in for a snacks and games night.

Lee’s experience also includes running a successful catering business. She left teaching after her children were born and decided to start catering. But after the death of her husband, she gave it up to go back to teaching. The hours the business demanded weren’t a good fit for a single mom.

“I call them my former lives,” she said of her past careers.

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